China is planning to build another natural gas pipeline from the energy-rich West to the energy-thirsty East in the coming five years from 2006 to 2010.
The proposal was raised in the draft of Guidelines for the Eleventh Five-Year Development Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2006-2010) submitted for examination and approval by the ongoing Fourth Session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC).
Still in feasibility research stage, there is no timetable yet for its construction, said Li Runsheng, spokesman of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China's largest natural gas producer.
Whether or when it will be constructed depends on supply and demand in China's natural gas market, he said.
The unbalanced distribution of natural gas resources is outstanding in the country, said Tang Yali, vice president of the Natural Gas and Pipeline Company under PetroChina.
East and Central China are experiencing rapid economic growth but also suffering shortage of energy.
Zhang Guobao, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (SDRC), said that China will increase its investment in the exploration of oil and gas resources of the Tarim Basin in Northwest China.
Huge gas reserves in China's West as well as increasing energy cooperation with the bordering countries make it feasible to build another west-to-east gas transmission pipeline, said Zhang.
An official with the CNPC said that the length, cost and the route of the new pipeline have not yet been decided.
But he said that the diameter of the second pipeline would be wider than that of the first west-east gas pipeline, which would demand much higher cost that the investment of 46 billion yuan (5.7 billion U.S. dollars) for the first one, he said.
China plans to raise the ratio of natural gas in its total energy consumption to about 8 percent to 10 percent by 2010, instead of the existing 3 percent to 5 percent.
The first massive project to pipe natural gas from the west to the east was put into commercial operation at the end of 2004, starting from the Tarim Basin of Northwest China's Xinjiang and arriving in East China's Shanghai.
The pipeline extending 4,000 km traverses 10 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, with designed annual gas transmission capacity of 12 billion cubic meters, which can ensure a stable gas supply of 30 years.